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At Sharon Nelson’s Distance Workshop last month, I realized Lil and I had a few holes to fill re: working at big distances. One was sharp turns (pushes) away from me after the weave poles and contacts (with me at lateral distance and with a discrimination straight ahead). With Champs coming up, I decided it would be fun…. and worthwhile to fill the training holes I am aware of, knowing there are surely more holes that will appear as we attempt more and more bonus boxes down the road. Since I don’t have access to contacts right now, I decided to start by working on sharp turns away from me after the weave poles.
On a side note, my weave poles (Versa-Weaves) allow me to leave a slightly open channel so I can do more reps than I would with straight-up poles. I also only used 6 vs. 12 poles because the focus of this session was on exits and not weaving itself.
I was (and am) very pleased with how well both dogs responded to pushes after the poles to the far hoops. I can see room for improvement with my timing but one thing I noticed with Lil is I can say WEAVE RIGHT or LEFT before she enters the poles and she seems to know that I mean “weave ALL the poles and then turn right or left” and she does not pop out of the poles. I repeated RIGHT or LEFT at the moment her nose crossed the plane of the last pole so I’m not sure if she is thinking about the verbal pre-cue while she is weaving but it certainly didn’t appear to hurt.. and who knows… it might actually help her anticipate an upcoming turn. Time will tell.
Jake blew me away with his enthusiasm and I loved seeing how far he was willing to drive ahead of me. His confidence is so much higher than it was even a month ago and as a result, I am asking for more and more distance. I think he is diggin’ it as much as Lil. What a GOOD BOY!
One last thing…..I’m starting to do something new with both dogs when working at bigger distances. I will sometime ask for a WAIT and then redirect them to the correct path vs. always letting them run the path they are committed to running, even if it is not the path I had intended. The reason I had previously let them continue on was to instill full confidence when working away from me but at this point I think both dogs are confident enough that I can ask for an occasional WAIT and redirect when practicing skills that are within the realm of what they know or just slightly more challenging. I don’t have a strict rule about when I ask for a WAIT but I only do it occasionally since I think if I interrupted their flow too often they would become cautious when working at bigger distances.
So far, so good. Both dogs appear to have great attitudes before, during, and after the occasional WAIT and redirect.